Life Skills, which helps individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism, learn, live, work and participate in the community, will affiliate with Easter Seals,
The affiliation began Sept. 1. The agency will continue to be known as Life Skills, but will also begin using the Easter Seals name and logo.
"They did their due diligence on us," said Kristi Mattison, Life Skills' Vice President, Marketing and Communications. "It was about a two year process."
Mattison said the partnership with Easter Seals will do three key things for Life Skills. Those include:
- Access to best practices and Easter Seals resources
- Opportunity to expand fundraising abilities because of the staff and grant-writing abilities of Easter Seals
- Extra voice in Washington, D.C.
Life Skills will retain its statewide operations and will continue to be governed by a local board of directors. In addition, any fundraising will stay local to the communities where the funds are raised and which the agency serves.
Life Skills merged with Touch Point Autism Services in 2012. Mattison said about 75 percent of the organization's clients fall on the autism spectrum. Life Skills serves about 4,200 families statewide in 95 counties.
"We'll be able to expand our services," Mattison said. "We'll move into all counties in Missouri and some in Illinois and Kansas near St. Louis and Kansas City."
Life Skills has an annual operating budget of near $40 million to serve individuals with developmental disabilities.
"This is great news for us and for the St. Louis region," Mattison said. "It shows that these services are definitely needed here."
“We are delighted to welcome Life Skills to our Easter Seals family,” said James E. Williams, Jr., Easter Seals president and Chief Executive Officer. “Given our shared missions and service offerings, and Life Skills’ outstanding record for meeting the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families throughout the state of Missouri, we know this partnership is a natural fit.”